Schlumberger Foundation: Grants for STEM education

OVERVIEW: This is the corporate foundation of the world’s largest oilfield services and equipment company, Schlumberger Limited. Schlumberger’s flagship grantmaking program is Faculty for the Future, which provides Ph.D. and postdoc fellowships for women working in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

IP TAKE: Schlumberger's grants have narrow eligibility requirements, but they provide an excellent opportunity for female scientists from developing countries. Grantseekers must create detailed proposals, have CVs that show an appropriate STEM track record, and be committed to helping their country of origin. Potential candidates should also be able to provide a strong teaching track record and outreach and engagement with colleagues.

PROFILE: Schlumberger Limited, a large oilfield corporation, is the largest company of its kind and operates in more than 85 countries. Its research and development centers and product and service centers across the world. The foundation’s work is rooted in “the link between science, technology, and socio-economic development, as well as the key role of education in realizing individual potential.” Technically its foundation actually exists as two separate organizations:  the Texas-based Schlumberger Foundation and the Schlumberger Stichting Fund in the Netherlands. 

The foundation’s giving strategies seek to increase diversity and enthusiasm for people entering STEM by targeting graduate and postgraduate research. Rather than holding science competitions or improving K-12 STEM instruction, the foundation believes its can best diversify the STEM field by funding female STEM researchers from developing countries. Schlumberger hopes to facilitate their careers so that they become “future leaders, change agents and policy makers back in their home regions where they are ultimately expected to return.” 

Schlumberger's main program, Faculty for the Future, funds the doctoral or post-doctoral studies of the most promising female scientists from developing countries who will seek positions in academia as professors and researchers. Winners are announced in the spring. Awards are single-year, but renewable at the foundation's discretion. Ph.D students receive up to $50,000 a year, while postdocs receive up to $40,000 per year. 

Grantseekers should note that Schlumberger does not fund Masters-level work. In addition, the foundation imposes geographic constraints on its grantees. Nor may applicants have dual citizenship in an industrialized country. In most cases, candidates must be studying abroad. Lastly, an applicant is expected to be committed to helping her country of origin as reflected in her research. Grantees must also have a strong track record of teaching, and collegial outreach and collaboration. Recipients have worked in an array of areas, including earthquake and tsunami risk reduction, improving the ground quality in regions with weak soil, carbon sequestration, and assessing and developing effective science teaching methodologies.


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